My name is Serena Sagnella, and I work at Versalis as a 'Green Chemistry Basic Engineer' within the Business Unit an in particular within the chemistry from renewable sources.
More specifically, I am involved in the design of equipment for chemical plants.
Versalis is Eni's chemical company and it operates globally in a wide range of sectors: from basic and intermediate chemicals, plastics and rubbers, to plastics recycling and chemicals from renewable sources.
The heart of Versalis is definitely the Research Centre, which is restlessly developing and optimizing all products in the business.
The term 'Green Chemistry' is not intended to give a colour to chemistry, but rather it means an approach to 'doing chemistry' that basically translates into using renewable sources as raw materials in our processes. To be used as a complement to traditional fossil fuels.
What are renewable sources? We are talking about biomass, forest residues and agricultural residues, which would otherwise lie fallow in the fields. We give them added value instead.
Chemistry from renewable sources is certainly a 'new' world that we are approaching, so research and innovation are crucial because only through these can we develop new technologies that can evolve our traditional processes.
One of the most important projects certainly concerns the Crescentino plant in the Piedmont region, where the PROESA® technology finds its fullest expression. With it, we produce ethanol from agricultural or forestry waste, which is transformed into valuable resources such as sugars, lignin and ethanol, i.e. a biofuel also known as 'advanced' bioethanol, to be used in a mixture with traditional petrol.
One example of product was created during the pandemic, when the Crescentino plant was converted for the production of an INVIX® branded hand disinfectant. Maybe some of you have it at home on your desk and don't know that it is a disinfectant derived from bio-based ethanol.
Versalis' main lines of development with regard to chemicals from renewable sources focus on product diversification to produce a greater range of decarbonised products. They are decarbonised because the CO2 emitted during the production processes using renewable sources is nothing other than the CO2 that the plant itself has absorbed during its life cycle to grow biomass.
In doing so, we are also able to cover a wider range of markets such as bioplastics, biofuels or even cosmetics, or in the agricultural field for the production of herbicides.
Working in the field of green chemistry allows you to never get bored. It is a very dynamic working environment because you do not work on something well-known or something standard. Being able to apply your ideas and the technical skills acquired over the years is rewarding. Knowing that you are doing it for a much greater purpose, i.e. for the world we live in, makes you feel really useful and alive.